Sideways (2004) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama
Fox || R - 127 minutes - $29.99 || February 3, 2009
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-02-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Alexander Payne
Writer(s): Rex Pickett (novel); Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (screenplay)
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh


Theatrical Release Date: January 21, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1), Portuguese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

After falling in love with Alexander Payneís Election, I was ready for more. I wound up renting Sideways and while I found it to be enjoyable... it becomes increasingly difficult to follow because of the numerous Wine references. Sure, had that rare bottle of wine been changed to a 2 half moon Boba Fett figure it might just make a bit more sense to me... but if you have no knowledge of wine it becomes very hard to follow.

Miles (Giamatti), a middle school English teacher and Wine lover, is divorced and living a rather bleak life. His best friend, Jack (Church), is getting married in a week and Miles plans on taking Jack up to Wine Country to spend the last week of being "single" relaxing, drinking wine and playing some Golf.

As the two friends travel up the California coast they stop off at various wineries and at one, they meet Stephanie (Oh) who takes an instant liking to Jack. After a bit of convincing, Jack invites Stephanie and her friend Maya (Madsen) - an obvious double-date - out to dinner. Jack and Stephanie instantly connect while Miles and Maya take things a bit slower. What comes to be is that both Miles and Jack continue to lie to the girls - never telling them that Jack is set to be wed in a few days time while Miles tries to build an unsuccessful relationship with Maya.

Having gone to some of these wineries before (and the Ostrich Farm) it's pretty exciting to watch the characters interact with environments I've been to before. One of them, towards the start of the movie, is where the two are going to visit Miles' mom and they take the Vineyard off-ramp - something I've done hundreds of times.

Putting my love for filming in my area aside, Sideways is a strong film. An incredibly tight script with some unique choices for editing that helps bring the story of Miles and Jack alive. While the numerous references to wine can be a bit annoying at times its obviously an integral part of the film. Performances are top notch all around. Giamatti continues to impress me it what might be his best performance to date.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Commentary with Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church

Behind the Scenes (7 Minutes; SD) - Useless in every way possible. Itís nothing more than a commercial for the film.

Deleted Scenes (20 Minutes; SD) - I really liked how each scene was introduced with notes by Director Alexander Payne but most of these scenes were simply filler. The only one of note is where Miles hits a dog.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Sideways is presented in 1.85:1 (AVC) on a 50GB Disc. Got to say, really disappointed here. The film is littered with halo effects (anything white seems to glow) and some of the scenes trying to show off the lush landscape of California comes across being way to bright (bleeding into objects). Flesh tones seem a bit better compared to the DVD, but overall I'm pretty upset the film didn't get better treatment. I am fully aware that this look is how Payne wants it to be...but those hoping for a huge improvement over the DVD will be disappointed.

Fox has included an English 5.1 DTS MA Track (and DTS in Spanish, French and Portuguese). On the bright side, audio sounds really good. Dialog comes across perfectly and rears, while used only a few times, sound great.



.::OVERALL::.

Sideways is not for everyone. Since the film throws wine references in every scene it can be a bit tough to get past all of that just to get to the actual relationship storyline with Miles and Jack. This Blu-ray release packs a slight improvement over the previous DVD and I can only really recommend an upgrade if you love the film...otherwise give this one a rent.